How can I personally help to reduce air pollution levels?
It is true that the changes made by just one person will not make a huge difference in reducing air pollution in general, but if everyone made small changes to their daily lives then this would make a huge impact on improving air quality. In most of the developed world air pollution is mainly caused by two major sources, vehicle emissions from road transport sources and emissions from power stations that are burning fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas) for the production of electricity.
Small changes you can make to your life to reduce air pollution.
1) Use your car less!
If this is not possible, then choose a car that is economical to run, with good MPG and lower emissions. In general, diesel cars produce fewer oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons (i.e. benzene) and much less carbon dioxide (major global warming gas) than petrol cars. Modern diesel cars also emit much less particulate matter (PM10) than older diesels. Some manufacturers are now fitting "particle traps" to stop any particulate pollution. Also, make sure you car is properly serviced and maintained. Having your car engine tuned on a regular basis will mean it creates less pollution and will be more economical to run. A vehicle exhaust emission test is now a requirement of the MOT test for cars more than 3 years old.
Where possible share a car journey to work or why not use the bus once or twice a week and leave the car at home.
Cycling or walking to work will also have the added benefit of keeping you fit!
2) Use less electricity!
The more electricity that you use, the more air pollution will be generated by power stations that are burning fossil fuels to generate the electricity in the first place. You can take very simple steps to reduce your electricity consumption. Turn off lights when they are not required, boil half a kettle of water rather than a full kettle if you do not need a full kettle of water, turn your television off completely at night rather than leave it on standby, install more insulation material in your loft or attic, and fit low energy light bulbs. On a nationwide scale, these simple changes would cut our energy consumption significantly thereby reducing emissions of SO2 and CO2.
3) Other ways to help reduce air pollution.
There are a number of other ways that you can help reduce local air pollution.